UPSC row - What are the students protesting for?
The truth about anti-CSAT agitation
Myth: This agitation is opposed to elementary working knowledge of English language that every civil servant needs.
Truth: There is a qualifying paper in English in the Mains examination. This ensures that every successful candidate has a working knowledge of English language. The students' movement has never opposed this paper or the idea of working knowledge of English. In fact it did not demand the removal of the 20 mark portion in the CSAT paper in the Preliminary examination that test English comprehension (which the government has announced).
Myth: This is a pro-Hindi movement that can create tension with other Indian languages.
Truth: This movement has never demanded any privilege for Hindi over other Indian languages. It has repeatedly clarified that it stands for all the Indian languages and not just Hindi. It does not demand any special treatment for Indian languages; the only demand is that there should be no systematic discrimination against Indian languages. That is why is has been supported by students and political representatives from all over the country.
Myth: The agitation opposes aptitude test, which is being used all over the world.
Truth: The movement has opposed CSAT but not the idea of an aptitude test. The older pattern of examination too had some questions that tested linguistic and quantitative skills (included in General Studies then). This was never objected to. The objection now is that CSAT is not the right kind of aptitude test. Specifically, the objection is that: 1) CSAT has more weightage and higher cut-off than is appropriate; 2) Items on quantitative skills have disproportionate weight as compared to analytical and decision making skills; 3) Section on language comprehension skills is systematically biased against non-English students. In other words, the objection is that the current CSAT is neither language-neutral nor discipline neutral. That is why they have demanded scrapping of CSAT. The students have proposed more than one model of how an aptitude test appropriate for Civil Service may be designed.
Myth: The students want the standards of the Civil Service examination to be diluted.
Truth: The movement has never demanded any relaxation in standards of merit. It has merely demanded that the test of merit should not be biased in favour of any language or discipline. In fact, creating a level playing ground should expand the pool of meritorious students from which the best can be selected. There is some evidence to suggest that the new pattern of examination has not increased but reduced the standards. The cut-off for selection in the Mains examination has fallen significantly after the new system was introduced in 2011. If a fair chance is given to students who have studied humanities and or in Indian languages to prove their merit, the cut off should go up.
Myth: The government has already conceded some of the main demands of the students and they must call off the agitation.
Truth: A minor demand about giving an additional chance to the candidates of 2011 has been conceded, but no other demand of the movement has been addressed by the government. The government has announced what was not demanded by the movement. The movement did not ask for the withdrawl of the 20 mark section. Its focus was on the 80-90 mark section on Linguistic Comprehension which the government has not addressed. Nor has it addressed the point about discipline neutrality.